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Momentum builds for science delivery at spring Steering Committee meeting

After the conclusion of the annual Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference, which featured several presentations by North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) staff and partners on new tools developed in response to regional conservation needs, the Steering Committee reviewed progress on getting these tools into the hands of practitioners on the ground.
Momentum builds for science delivery at spring Steering Committee meeting

Patty Riexinger of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation leads a roundtable discussion on identifying opportunities for science delivery.

After the conclusion of the annual Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference, which featured multiple presentations and a hands-on workshop by North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) staff and partners on new tools developed in response to regional conservation needs, the North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee met to review progress on getting these tools into the hands of practitioners on the ground.

Nearly 60 Steering Committee partners and guests, representing 29 agencies and organizations, were present in person or on the phone for the Spring meeting, held in Annapolis, Maryland, during which they discussed and provided input and direction on next steps for conservation design, science development, and science delivery.

“To quote the seminal film Ghostbusters, ‘We have the tools. We have the talent. What are we going to do now?’,” asked Assistant Director for Natural Resources for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Cathy Sparks, who led a discussion on implementing State Wildlife Action Plans in Northeast states.

The clear first step is to ensure that Steering Committee agencies and organizations have the support they need both to communicate about North Atlantic LCC resources with staff and partners, and to use them to inform decisions relevant to their goals. With that in mind, the first half of the meeting highlighted how North Atlantic LCC staff are focusing increasingly on outreach and hands-on learning, as through a training held on the opening day of NEAFWA about applying Information and tools from LCCs.

“I attended the workshop on Sunday, and thought it was very powerful,” said Becky Gwynn, Assistant Wildlife Resources Bureau Director of the at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. “I am not in a technical position, but I was able to easily use the aquatic connectivity tool to look at an area I know well and think about opportunities for conservation.”

Gwynn explained that the three LCCs whose geographies overlap with Virginia traveled to Richmond last fall to discuss relevant data and tools in a meeting attended by more than 40 staff members from programs throughout her agency; one of the outcomes was an affirmation that a hands-on workshop was needed. “I’d love to see a team from the LCC come down to Virginia and do something analogous,” she said, referring to the NEAFWA workshop.

Over the past year, North Atlantic LCC staff and partners have led or presented at more than 30 events like the Virginia meeting, intended to share information with conservation programs and partners. To support in-person outreach, staff simultaneously increased the frequency of product webinars, completed the development of a searchable Products database on the website, a set of fact sheets tailored to each of the 13 states in the region, and several case studies highlighting examples of how partners are using the products.

During the meeting, staff and partner presentations also highlighted other important facets of science delivery: demonstration projects, science delivery networks, and specific applications of tools.

Bill Labich of Highstead Foundation shared examples of how his organization is supporting the application of conservation designs in land-trust planning in 22 Regional Conservation Partnerships in New England and New York, and implementation of USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service grants in the Connecticut River-Long Island Sound Watershed.

Michale Glennon of the Wildlife Conservation Society discussed her organization’s efforts to deliver science to towns by looking for intersections between wildlife friendly land-use planning tools and ecological hot spots identified using LCC information.

Andrew Milliken described a joint effort between LCC and National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) staff to develop specific applications of and training for LCC information and tools for NWR Habitat Management Plans providing landscape and regional context for 70 refuges across the Northeast Region.

The Steering Committee discussed the application of LCC information and tools in identification of Regional Conservation Opportunity Areas (RCOA) as well, recognizing that the exposure and use of information through through RCOA development by 50 partners is in itself a key mode of science delivery.

The Spring meeting also provided more opportunities for Steering Committee partners to share work that connects with the LCC mission. Jack Buckley of the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and and Mary Ratnaswamy of the Northeast Climate Science Center presented the new Massachusetts Climate Action Tool, and in an afternoon forum led by Ellen Mecray of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), federal agency Steering Committee members including NOAA, USGS, BOEM, EPA, and USFS shared additional landscape conservation resources that they can provide to LCC partners.

To help capitalize on the momentum gained by LCC staff and partners in delivering science in the past year, Patty Riexinger of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation led a roundtable  discussion in which the Steering Committee discussed how to best work with LCC staff to organize and target science delivery in their agencies and organizations and agreed to follow up with specific staff contacts, ideas and opportunities.   

Moving forward, staff will continue to pursue new opportunities for outreach, and stay connected with previous training recipients to make sure they have the support and resources they need to apply information from the LCC in their work.






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